Sunday, May 31, 2009

All-Time Caucasian NBA All-Star Team

By Dave Armstrong (5-31-09)

Now, let's nip in the bud any suspicion that this post is some dumb racist thing. In point of fact, the discussion was started by a black guy on the alumni website for my high school, Cass Technical, in Detroit (which was about 80% African-American when I went there in the 70s). I was the only white guy who even participated in the thread, because I thought it was fun, and I love studying the history of the NBA. He first wrote:
White Men CAN Jump: All-star Caucasian team - Who's your starting 5?

No disrespect intended. Since the NBA is 85% bruthas, I was just wondering who would be your All-Star Caucasian team starting 5 of all time?

Power Forward:
Small Forward:
2 guard
Pt guard:
One off the bench:
I developed my choices as I went along, by consulting the record books. So the first team listed below did not end up being my final choice.

* * * * *

Sounds fun to me!

Center: George Mikan (considered one of the best centers ever)
Power Forward: Larry Bird (was he power? Dunno. The complete package)
Small Forward: Dirk Novitzki (probably best 3 pt. shooting big man ever, except for Reggie Miller)
2 guard: Pete Maravich (all-time college scoring leader: 44 PPG)
Pt guard: Jerry West (Jordan picked as the guy he'd like to play one-on-one, I believe)
One off the bench [too hard to pick one!]: John Havlicek, John Stockton (all-time leader in assists and steals), Jason Kidd, Steve Nash [two of the greatest point guards ever], Kevin McHale [Mr. paint]

Well, Kidd is only half-white. :-)

Maravich was probably the best ball-handler ever too. He played like a Harlem Globetrotter. Amazing . . . after he died (in his 40s) they discovered that he had a hole in his heart his whole life. He might have been even better.

West, Maravich, and Bird were the three obvious choices, but Stockton is very close. Havlicek played forward, too, so maybe he should replace Dirk. I think so. According to Wikipedia:
Havlicek is considered one of the best NBA players in history, especially on defense, and was inducted as a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1984. . . . John Havlicek is the Celtics all-time leader in points and games played, scoring 26,395 points (20.8 points per game, 10th all-time in points scored in the NBA), and playing in 1,270 games (4th all-time). He became the first player to score 1,000 points in 16 consecutive seasons, with his best season coming during the 1970-71 NBA season when he averaged 28.9 points per game.
He's got eight rings, too. Okay, I'm a believer; time to revise my team:

Center: George Mikan (22.3 ppg, 13.4 rpg)
Power Forward: Larry Bird (24.3 ppg, 10.0 rpg, 6.3 apg, .886 free throw pct.)
Small Forward: John Havlicek (20.8 ppg, great defense)
2 guard: Pete Maravich (24.2 ppg avg.)
Pt guard: Jerry West (27.0 ppg avg.: 4th highest among retired players)
One off the bench: John Stockton (10.5 apg, 15,806 total: avg. 14.5/game in 1990: all-time record, 3265 steals: 750 more total than Michael Jordan, who is in 2nd place)

I love looking up stats. Just for the record, here are Dirk Nowitzki's career numbers:

22.4 ppg
8.6 rpg
.871 ft%
.380 3p%

Not bad, but I'll stick with Havlicek for overall spunk, defense, and the eight rings. Being the leading scorer and also a great defender on Bill Russell's Celtics is a pretty big accomplishment.

Who's going play defense Dave? LOL!

Havlicek and Bird, no? Then Stockton with the all-time steals record is pretty good defense. But Mikan is a hall-of-famer and one of the Top 50. Now I'm curious about more stats:

Kevin McHale

17.9 ppg
7.3 rpg
1.74 bpg
.798 ft%
All-Defensive first team 3 times and second team 3 times.

Not comparable to Havlicek; sorry . . .

Bill Laimbeer

12.9 ppg
9.7 rpg
0.9 bpg
.837 ft%

Not all-time stuff. Good rebounder and master of elbows to the head and shots with no arc at all . . .

Dave Cowens

17.6 ppg
13.6 rpg (as high as 16.0 and 16.2 in a season)
3.8 apg
0.9 bpg
.783 ft%
5th all-time for defensive rating.

Close but no cigar.

Bob Pettit

26.4 ppg (7th highest all-time; 5th among retired players)
16.2 rpg (20.3 in '60-'61; 3rd in all-time rebounds after Wilt and Bill)
3.0 apg
.761 ft%
6th all-time for player efficiency rating.

Okay; he replaces Mikan on my team now . . .

Bill Walton

13.3 ppg
10.5 rpg
2.2 bpg
3.4 apg

8th all-time for defensive rating.

Laimbeer numbers; not good enough for an all-time team just because of one great rebounding year and ring.

Bob Cousy

18.4 ppg
7.5 apg
5.2 rpf
.803 ft%

Very respectable but again not good enough for all-time six white guys.

A guy we've all forgotten so far is Rick Barry:

23.2 ppg (30.5 in four ABA seasons; 24.78 ppg counting both leagues; 14th all-time)
6.5 rpg
5.1 apg
2.0 spg
.900 ft% (.947 in '78-'79!)

Comparable to several we have named.

And how about Jerry Lucas:

17.0 ppg
15.6 rpg (4th all-time; 21.1 in '65-'66)
3.3 apg
.783 ft%

That beats Laimbeer, Walton, Cowens; and twice as many rebounds as McHale.

Also, Dolph Schayes is a Hall-of-Famer:

18.5 ppg
12.1 rpg (15th all-time)
3.1 apg
.849 ft%

Dave DeBusschere deserves honorable mention:

16.1 ppg
11.0 rpg
2.9 apg
0.9 spg

Billy Cunningham
averaged 21.2 ppg and 10.4 rpg.

Mark Eaton
is the all-time blocks-per-game leader with 3.5 bpg; also he averaged 7.9 rpg (higher than McHale), but they started the blocking statistics late. Bill Russell would be the best, for sure.

Steve Kerr has the all-time best offensive rating, followed by Miller, Magic, and Stockton.

Mark Price has the highest lifetime ft% (.9039), followed by Barry, Nash, and Stojakovic: three more white guys.

Jason Kapono
is the all-time 3p% leader at .465, with a remarkable .514 in '06-'07 (108 for 210); Kerr is 2nd, Petrovic 4th, Nash 7th. Reggie Miller is 36th (!!!).

So my revised team is:

Center: Bob Pettit (26.4 ppg, 16.2 rpg; can anyone argue with that?)
Power Forward: Larry Bird (24.3 ppg, 10.0 rpg, 6.3 apg, .886 free throw pct. Wow!)
Small Forward: John Havlicek (20.8 ppg.; 11th highest in points: most of any white guy; great defense; good enuff for me)
2 guard: Pete Maravich (24.2 ppg avg.: 17th all-time; 4th highest for a white guy; probably best ball handler ever)
Pt guard: Jerry West (27.0 ppg avg.: 4th highest among retired players after Jordan, Wilt, Elgin Baylor)
One off the bench: John Stockton (10.5 apg, 15,806 total [way ahead of everyone]: avg. 14.5/game in 1990: all-time record, 3265 steals: 750 more total than Michael Jordan, who is in 2nd place), Jerry Lucas, Rick Barry.

I haven't had this much fun with statistics in memory . . . .

How about an all-black team? My quick response would be Michael Jordan, Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, Oscar Robertson (almost a career triple double!), and Elgin Baylor. That could certainly compete with any rival challenge, unless Kareem Abdul-Jabbar could get in there and squeeze someone out. Baylor averaged 2 ppg higher and 2 rpg higher than Jabbar and 0.7 more assists too. I pick Wilt as the best player of all-time because of being the 2nd highest scorer and highest rebounder (22.9). Jordan had way less rebounds and Russell had half the points. Magic Johnson off the bench for assists, all-around game, and clutch play.

The all-black team is the best all-time period, too! Maybe Bird and West and possibly Pettit could sit on the bench as reserves, but even that is debatable. Not starters, though. They're mere human beings, not gods like Chamberlain, Russell, et al.

But hey, I think we white guys have done pretty good in the NBA records book: considerably better than I had thought before I looked at all the stats.

Elgin Baylor stats:

27.4 ppg
13.5 rpg
4.3 apg

In '61-'62 he averaged 38.3 ppg, 18.6 rpg and 4.6 apg
In '60-'61 it was 34.8, 19.8, 5.1

Magic could pass better and had more assists (and probably a cuter smile). Other than that, it's no contest.

Oscar Robertson stats:

25.7 ppg
7.5 rpg
9.5 apg

In '61-'62 he averaged 30.8 ppg, 12.5 rpg, and 11.4 apg, thus averaging a triple double for the entire year.

1 comment:

andrew said...

Billy Cunningham was an incredible scorer; don't know if he'd be described as a power or small forward. Listed as one of 50 top NBA players ever.

Other CAs on that list:

Rick Barry, Bob Cousy, John Havlicek, Dave Cowens, Paul Arzen, Dave DeBussschere, Maravich, McHale, Mikan, Petitt, Walton, Dolph Schayer, Sharman, Stockton